Vampire Therapist Interview – Post Launch DLC Planned For 2024

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Developer Cyrus Nemati shed light on vampires and their many dilemmas in our recent interview about Vampire Therapist!

Story Highlight
  • Vampire Therapist is not your average vampire game.
  • We conducted an interview with developer Cyrus Nemati ahead of the Q2 2024 launch.
  • During the interview, we went over the research involved in tackling therapy, post-launch content, and the challenges of solo development.

Therapy and mental health are two topics that need no introduction. As society has evolved, humanity is more aware of the challenges people face every day, leading to a growing need for therapy.

With vampires living exponentially longer than humans, their lives can be infinitely more complex and challenging. This brings us to Vampire Therapist, a game by Cyrus Nemati that aims to explore these fictional beings in a new light.

Cyrus Nemati brings a breadth of voice acting experience to the game, using his unique professional history to craft this narrative adventure. We recently had the opportunity to discuss Vampire Therapist with Cyrus Nemati, exploring the many nuances of an experience that combines therapy and vampires.

Vampire Therapist
Vampire Therapist Features A Cowboy Turned Therapist As The Protagonist
Can you describe Vampire Therapist and its concept for the readers briefly?

Cyrus Nemati: Sure! Vampire Therapist is a lighthearted psychotherapy simulator about helping historical vampires find inner peace.

We use real Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) concepts to explore “cognitive distortions” — unrealistic patterns of thought that slow our personal growth. Ironically, it’s a game about self-reflection with creatures that don’t cast a reflection.

How did researching and incorporating historical elements into Vampire Therapist contribute to the game’s narrative and thematic exploration?

Cyrus Nemati: Choosing vampires as therapy subjects was intentional. One of the game’s core themes is that ever since language has developed, humanity could have benefited from therapy.

Our issues aren’t new; we’ve only just learned how to discuss them. By picking vampires from different eras of history and giving them relatable problems, we’re hoping to communicate the universal nature of mental health struggles.

We’ve done an awful lot of research — both in vampire lore and mythology, but also in history and philosophy, and have been lucky enough to have access to primary sources and academic support from respected historians. It’s been a history nerd’s dream to work on this game!

How big a part did professional therapists play in the game’s development?

Cyrus Nemati: Huge! The game could not exist without therapy support. The main gameplay mechanic is identifying cognitive distortions, and while there is a lot of literature online explaining them, interpreting distortions is a matter of perspective and experience.

We’ve had every single distortion reviewed by our therapist counsel and gotten general advice on approach (with the understanding that vampires are multigenerational beings with different psychosocial outlooks!).

How do you balance comedic elements and serious themes explored in the game?

Cyrus Nemati: Humanity does a lot of that work for us, I think. Humor is a natural counter to trauma, especially as time creates distance. This is part of the reason we went with historical vampires.

They all have trauma, but time has made those traumas less raw. We’ve also got the more lighthearted types of humor — vampire fish out of water stuff, cultural/historical differences causing confusion. We’re definitely a comedy first game.

What are some of the challenges you have faced while developing Vampire Therapist, both creatively and technically?

Cyrus Nemati: They’ve kinda gone hand in hand! I’m primarily a writer, and I had to make sure I wasn’t getting in my own way with code. In the end, I came up with a nice system where I could write the game’s dialogue script and drop in common commands to add cognitive distortions to a statement. I’m pretty proud of that!

Creatively, there have been huge challenges. I threw out earlier scripts as the main character was so knowledgeable and wise that he sucked the humor out of the room. I also wanted the challenge of “curing” a narcissist, which has no professional consensus. I’ll leave it to my therapist players to say whether or not I was successful!

Since this was primarily a solo project, did you receive external help for any parts of the game?

Cyrus Nemati: I have a team of artists who are fantastic. They’re exactly the kinds of artists I wanted to hire: people who don’t just take orders. They question, challenge, and make suggestions to make the game’s vision clearer.

I’ve also gotten programming support from people who are much more capable than I am. Our codebase is full of extremely clean, syntactically robust code, and my code- which looks more like a writer talking to a computer.

Do you have plans for post-launch content? Something to expand the roster of vampires?

Cyrus Nemati: Yup! We’re aiming for a post-launch content release later this year featuring vampire couples’ therapy. It’s going to be wild.

Voice acting is a crucial component of the game. How do you ensure each character’s voice and personality feel distinct and memorable?

Cyrus Nemati: When I’ve led writers in the past, I’ve always given them the goal of making sure that they should be able to read a line and know which character said it without looking. Voice acting is much the same.

Every human being is an individual, and they’re all going to approach how they speak from a different place. I always start with a character’s insecurity. How does a character want to be perceived? I worked in Washington, DC, for my first career, so I consider myself an expert in insecurity.

Can we expect Vampire Therapist to tackle sensitive topics beyond the surface level? How in-depth will it go?

Cyrus Nemati: I’d say, by default, we’re always handling sensitive topics beyond the surface level. Not in terms of trauma processing but more from a sociological perspective.

Since we’re dealing with vampires, we can dig deep into social history and then dig even deeper. It’s a good thing the game has fart jokes because it would be really pretentious otherwise.

Does the game come with a fail state? Any scenarios where the player is unable to help certain vampires?

Cyrus Nemati: We have no fail states. It didn’t feel right to let the player irredeemably fail their clients, but if they’re making mistakes, we give them some gentle guidance. We also reward effective gameplay. We have some other gameplay mechanisms to increase replayability without relying on failure.

Given the typical age of vampires, they would probably be great therapists for humans. Would a human be a suitable therapist for a vampire if the roles were reversed?

Cyrus Nemati: In very rare cases, it could work— perhaps a baby vampire (one who hasn’t lived a single lifetime)! But I think, in general, no. Mortality is a pretty hard limiter of perspective, both in terms of what we have time to do, and a multigenerational perspective isn’t possible.

I don’t think a vampire would have a lot of respect for a mortal whose interpretation of social change is based on a single generation.

If your therapist was a vampire, who would you pick among the famous vampires from films, books, games, and other media?

Cyrus Nemati:I had to do a little research for this. The whole idea for Vampire Therapist came from the confused realization that vampires in media don’t have much capacity for personal growth. So my reader-unfriendly answer is Barnabus Collins of Dark Shadows, the 60s American TV series.

He’s a vampire who starts out as the hissing monster we’re all familiar with but grows in his capacity for empathy. I’d give a second place to Brad Pitt’s character in Interview with the Vampire, but only if I had pretty people problems and not much else.

Vampire Therapist
Vampire Therapist Offers A Plethora of Choices For Each Situation

Vampire Therapist is set to launch on Steam on the 17th of June. We thank Cyrus Nemati for the opportunity to discuss his game as it heads toward the much-anticipated June release window.

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